The Day MacKenzie Gore Baptized Mexico’s New Baseball Cathedral

It’s been exactly one year since I moved to Mexico City from my crumbling Caracas, and I have to confess that it has swept me off my feet.

The food is great, the weather is awesome, it’s inexpensive. The people are kind, and every weekend it seems that you have something different to do. Not that I’ve accepted every offer, but there is still something pleasing about turning down opportunities just to get cozy on your couch.

However, this past weekend, Mexico City had an offer too good to pass up.

For the past couple of years, the citizens of this very religious place had been expecting the grand opening of a new cathedral, not for Catholics, but for the church of baseball we are so devoted to in this corner of the web. And on Saturday, that wait finally came to an end.

Located in the eastern part of the city and very near the airport at Puebla metro station, Alfredo Harp Helu Stadium opened its doors and officially became the new home of the Diablos Rojos del Mexico, arguably the most successful team in Mexican League history.

From above, the structure honors the team it was built for by mimicking a massive pitchfork, the weapon of choice of a respected “Diablo.” The name honors the man responsible for all of this: the owner of the Diablos, Guerreros de Oaxaca, and partial owner of the San Diego Padres, Mr. Alfredo Harp Helú.

The pyramidal shape of most of the internal structures honors the vast pre-Hispanic history this country has. But most of all, the new stadium itself seems to honor the passion this place has for baseball. As soon it opened its doors, the people came, and came by the thousands, to make baseball, for at least a weekend, even bigger than madness-inducing Mexican soccer.

Then again, they didn’t just come to discover this new place like you would a museum. The diamond had to be alive and breathing, and because of that, Diablos Rojos invited the San Diego Padres to help them celebrate the new home artificial turf.

What happened next encompassed all of the reasons we love baseball. A Padres roster full of young, brilliant prospects came to a packed house, and defeated their hosts 11-1 on Saturday night and 9-6 on Sunday afternoon. In my book, it was the Sunday’s game that really christened this place.

MacKenzie Gore, the third overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft, went to mound in front of 20,000 people to face a lineup packed with stars from Mexico and the Caribbean winter leagues.

The result of it was just a pitching masterpiece.

This was the allegro:

This was the adagio:

And this was the minuet:

The lefty threw four innings, striking out five rivals and allowing only a single, showing a superb repertoire that was highlighted by a bunch of 96-98 mph fastballs (the radar gun on the stadium is a Stalker, so you can rely on the readings) with command of all of his other pitches.

I’m no scout, but I don’t think you have to be one to appreciate the nastiness he showed, especially after the first inning. The slider he used to strike out Alonzo Harris, the at-bat against Oswaldo Arcia, and the fastball in the black against Japhet Amador were things that you just don’t see over here or from a guy who has not pitched above A-ball yet.

This was professional hitters being absolutely overmatched by an up-and-coming deity, showcased in the new baseball Cathedral of Latin America.

Talk about destiny.

Bonus moment

Diablos hitters got a little revenge against the brutal talent the Padres brought this weekend when minor league globetrotter Kevin Medrano did this facing a 100-mph fastball from Mexican fireballer Andrés Muñoz:

Muñoz’s fastball was consistently between 98 and 100 mph, touching 103 on the scouts’ radar guns.

You have to remember that Mexico is not the Dominican Republic, and pitchers capable of throwing this type of gas over here are virtually nonexistent. You can only imagine the shock from the fans in the stands after seeing something like this happen in front of their eyes.

We hoped you liked reading The Day MacKenzie Gore Baptized Mexico’s New Baseball Cathedral by Octavio Hernandez Pernía!

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Head of the advanced metrics department of Diablos Rojos del Mexico and former assistant GM of Leones del Caracas (Venezuelan Winter Ball). Just a Venezuelan baseball journalist trying to help my region get on board with advance stats. It's not the future of the game. It's just the present.

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I’m fascinated by Mexican ball. Looking forward to more of this! Thanks!